Here's a scary thought, as this extraordinarily humid and hot summer drags on: picture yourself going out without an ice-cold beer. How would you tame your thirst? Thankfully, we averted a crisis and surrendered our craving for cotton candy topped soft-serve ice-cream. Sanlitun Beijie proves to be an ideal destination for such chilly treats, though some of its offerings are much better than others.

With three branches in Beijing and fourteen outlets throughout China, Remicone is a South Korean soft ice cream and desserts chain in a truck shape and laboratory inside. At their Sanlitun branch we ordered the classic Thunder Bomb (RMB 32), which has soft-serve ice-cream as the base, mint-flavored gray cotton candy above that, and a piece of lightening-bolt-shaped white chocolate on the very top. And in case all that doesn’t give you enough sugar for the day, they also decorated the lump of gray cloud cotton candy with pop rocks, hooray!  

You can simply bite down the cotton candy, or press it down into the ice-cream and scoop the mixture out. The chilly and creamy texture, along with the explosive pop rock candies, make you feel like a circus assembling in your mouth. They also have a pink puffy cloud version called the cherry bomb.

After visiting Remicone we strolled north, and found a long queue in front of Cocktail Box. Their small menu features stormy ice cream (in golden iceberg and chocolate volcano varieties) and stormy frozen yogurt (featuring both Hawaii beach and Baileys mount versions). It’s hard to say that they are not inspired from Remicone around the corner. As we watched a girl order a not-so-pretty lump of pink cotton candy on her ice-cream, we decided to go for the frozen yogurt, thinking “How bad can it be?" Unfortunately, it proved to be a naïve choice.

On the menu, it's clear that the Hawaii beach (RMB 25) must be copying the classic Hawaiian beach from Remicone. The Remicone one should have blue syrup with coconut powder atop the ice-cream base (seriously, with a mere one letter difference in their titles, this idea theft couldn’t be more obvious). To make this dessert extreme (or at least set it apart somewhat from its Remicone counterpart), you can add some creamy popcorn with caramel toffee or Belgium chocolate on the top.

I waited for seven minutes, and then there came a gray cotton candy on the top, along with a diluted Listerine mouthwash-kind of blue flavoring in the mix, and plasticky pink and yellow stars dotted throughout. But don't take our word for it, just look at the photo above. No, it’s not tacky, not tacky at all. Worst of all is its texture, which is like some mint-flavored toothpaste you put in the fridge overnight. I'd rather never recall it. 

Argh, It wasn't long until I started to miss the cloudy cocktail at Tiago after looking at this disaster from Cocktail Box. At least it had quality classic cotton candy that went perfectly with a refreshing martini.

If these two versions of ice-creams aren't satisfactory, then you could also try the trottersfried chicken fillet, beer burger, or egg tarts on the same street.

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Photos: retaildesignblog, Tracy Wang

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